Week 14 of the NFL regular season saw the San Francisco 49ers get back to winning as they defeated the visiting Miami Dolphins 27-13. And while the heavily favored 49ers were expected to win the contest to stay atop the NFC west ranking, there is growing concern in regard to the good and bad aspects of their play as of late. Concerns that will have to be addressed if they have any hope of winning their remaining games and making a deep run in the playoffs. With the 49ers quarterback controversy now in the rear view mirror, they really need to focus on honing the offensive scheme to allow them a greater efficiency.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his part played a very good game, completing 18 of his 23 passes for 185 yards, as well as rushing six times for 53 yards and a touchdown. With a statistic line like that it is very hard to criticize his play, but there are areas in his game that call for attention. For instance, he did distribute the ball in his passing attempts to seven different targets. However, of those targets, only one caught more than two balls. And more alarming is the fact that three of those targets were running backs and a fullback. Fullback Bruce Miller was again tied for second in pass receptions and again superstar tight end Vernon Davis was held to only one catch. When the fullback catches more passes than the tight end, it indicates bail out throws. Kaepernick has the propensity to not let plays develop before he runs the ball or dumps it down to a bail out option. It is a clear indication that he is not reading the defense well enough to go through his route options properly, and has become quick to pull the panic trigger.
The 49ers running game also needs to rekindle the fire it once had. If not for Kaepernick’s 50-yard trick play touchdown run, the running attack would not have been a factor. Workhorse running back Frank Gore only had 12 total rushes. He had 63 yards and a touchdown, but had it not been for a one yard score, his production would have been viewed as minimal. As a team the 49ers only had 155 total rushing yards, minus the 50 from Kaepernick and the 49ers did not run the ball with enough efficiency to beat playoff bound teams. This will most certainly need to be addressed sooner than later.
The defense on the other hand is playing at a remarkably high level. They held the Dolphins to 227 total offensive yards. And linebacker Aldon Smith recorded two more sacks, bringing his league-leading total to 19.5, and there are still three more games to play. In the last five games, the 49ers defense has hidden the shortcomings and lack of execution on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is about the only sure thing with the 49ers right now, and they will have to remain in control of games going forward if the 49ers want a shot at the title.
It is to be a very trying time for the 49ers in the next couple of week, they have not yet clinched the division or even a playoff birth. And the Seattle Seahawks are right on their heels, making any miscue on the part of the 49ers a potential game changer. To make matters worse, the 49ers still have to play them, as well as the Tom Brady led New England Patriots. The 49ers have the Patriots this week in another prime time Sunday night game at New England. It will be the most difficult and important test for the 49ers to date.
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